The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

January 9, 2013

Throwback recipes inspire modern crepe craze

JOPLIN, Mo. — While fondue mostly stayed back in the 1950s and '60s, crepes have been making a comeback. Crepes, traditionally a thin French pancake, have recently risen in popularity again in the United States.

Creperies continue to open in cities nationwide, and many companies are now selling prepackaged versions of the French street food to those unwilling or unable to make them at home.

At the heart of the crepe -- either sweetened or unsweetened, depending on its filling -- is the perfect base for any number of dishes, from traditional Crepes Suzette to pizza crepes. For Christmas, my best friend and former Joplin Globe intern, Laura Dimmit, got a copy of the vintage cookbook "You Can Do Anything with Crepes," by Virginia Pasley and Jane Green. It was first published in 1970.

Aside from the occasional dash of sexism (in the Crepes Suzette recipe, the cook is encouraged to have a gentleman light the dish), the book includes both traditional and non-traditional recipes. Information about the crepe itself and its uses as a dish component is also included./> After I posted pictures from Laura's multi-course New Year's Eve dinner, which included recipes from the book, several people commented online and in person that crepes are either too difficult to make at home or that they thought making crepes required special equipment.

I was surprised by this. I happily admit to the above-average skills my friends and I have in the kitchen, but there is really nothing difficult about making crepes.

While there are many variations, most crepes include a combination of eggs, butter, flour, water, milk, salt and, depending on the filling, a dash of sugar. Some savory crepes include buckwheat flour instead of plain white flour. Other recipes call for a dash of cinnamon or other spices in the batter before cooking.

"You Can Do Anything with Crepes," recommends that you let the batter sit for at least 1 hour (6 hours, ideally) to allow the flour to suitably soak up all the liquid, which makes for a more flavorful crepe -- a technique Laura says is effective.

Once cooked, crepes can be filled, rolled and served or filled, rolled, covered in custard and baked. In the case of Crepes Suzette, finished crepes are added to a sauce made of sugar, Grand Marnier and orange zest. Then, it's flambeed, which, once extinguished, gives the crepes a texture that's almost custard-like.

It's a versatile dish.

Last year, friends and I made an impromptu crepe breakfast for my other best friend, Haley. We used only what she had in the pantry and a skillet -- no special equipment required.

So, to the claim that you can do anything with crepes, I'd like to add that anyone can do anything with crepes. The first recipe for basic crepes has been adapted from several sources. The cinnamon toast crepes and the breakfast crepes are my variations, while the Crepes Suzette recipe comes from "You Can Do Anything with Crepes."

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